Friday Art: Cat And Traffic by Wayne Thiebaud (1983)

Thiebaud is a pop artist who mostly paints cakes and pastries and bubble gum in candy colors, but he’s also branched out into other subjects to apply that bright color palette to.

I dealt with one of the elements of this painting for more hours than I wanted to today and not the one I’d choose. Traffic sucks. And I could spend endless hours with the cat.

I like the dreamscape like quality of this – the rising towers based on San Francisco skyline combined with curving traffic lanes and colorful cars that resemble a winding slot car set wrapping around Lego towers.

All observed on that balcony by the little black and white cat. Maybe it is a toy set, and the cat is stalking the moving toy cars. My cat did that to my Hot Wheels cars when I was a kid, after all.

Such a simple and pretty concept well executed, and – hey look! – Thiebaud sold this one for EIGHT HUNDRED NINETY THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS????

Jesus… I really should learn to paint.

Football Picks: Weekend of November 2-3, 2019

I skipped picks last week with all the distractions, plus doing pretty badly the week before. Season totals stand at a you-may-as-well-flip-a-coin 39-38-3.

But with a lot of work done and other crap dealt with, it’s time to plunge back in and see what happens. I’m trying to be stricter in throwing possible bets out, so let’s see if that has a positive effect.

In the college games:

Pittsburgh by 7 over Georgia Tech

Cincinnati by 23 1/2 over East Carolina (the secret 51st state)

Kansas State by 4 1/2 over Kansas

LA Lafayette by 22 1/2 over Texas State

SMU plus 5 1/2 against Memphis (a good matchup)

Oregon State plus 5 1/2 against Arizona (probably my iffiest one, tbh)

In the NFL:

Jaguars plus 1 1/2 against the Texans

Panthers by 3 over the Titans

Colts by 1 over the Steelers

Packers by 3 1/2 over the Chargers

I also think the Patriots will win out over the Ravens in what’s probably the best game of the week. Will they cover the 3 1/2 or just win by a field goal? I’m figuring they cover or just lose it outright, to be honest…. so I’ll go with cover! The power of positive thinking.

Friday Art: Wild Horses by Rosa Bonheur (1889)

I didn’t bet the first day of the Breeders’ Cup Races today, but I’ll be handicapping and betting the final pick 6 sequence tomorrow, most likely with a pick 5 and pick 4 combo along with some bets on the 12th classic race too. The Triple Crown races get a lot more attention, but these feature the best overall horses in the world, the best up and coming prospects, and are VERY challenging to handicap.

So it’s time to flush some money away, I guess.

Rosa Bonheur was one of the better-known animal painters of the late 19th century. While well known in her native France, she found a lot more success in Britain and America, and in her late career painted settings right at home in the American west, like this one.

All we need is for John Wayne or Jimmy Stewart to walk up to that horse, talk to it a little, and then ride off to fight some bad guys. Look how she uses those different shades of brown to capture the musculature of a strong horse like that, and the way you see it reflected in the different shines of the coat. Nice purples in the sky, too. It’s a beautiful picture.

I hope my bets are as beautiful tomorrow. Tally ho!

The “Experts” Are Wrong, Part Infinity: Cleaning Solar Panels Improves Performance

I’ll pass this along as a public service, since EVERY website I visited asking this question got it wrong. Nearly every website I visited on whether or not it’s worthwhile to have solar panels professionally cleaned said it wasn’t necessary.

WRONG.

The solar panels on my roof would get dirty over time – dust, pollen and the like. Usually I’d just wait for a rainstorm to clean ’em off and return them to their shiny dark blue reflective look, instead of a dusty car finish look. Sometimes I’d hose them off early in the morning after morning dew had loosened the dust and they weren’t heated up yet. After I’d clean them, I’d notice an uptick in performance when reading the numbers on the inverter.

Recently, I noticed my system had dipped in performance, and the panels were pretty dirty – and hosing them myself didn’t really make much difference. Never mind that my hose added hard water marks.

So I hired a local dude to climb up on my roof and clean them with ionized water and a soft mop. Not very expensive, and it only took him an hour or so. He also tightened the clamps and zip ties on the panels, as well as the added bonus of replacing a cracked roof tile for me I had NO idea about, all gratis!

That’d be enough for me to recommend the guy to locals, but the big news is that cleaning the panels did the trick – they’re back to producing the amount of energy they’re supposed to.

The weather has been identical, and the cleaning made a 15+% difference in the efficiency of the system.

So THE WEBSITES TELLING YOU OTHERWISE ARE CRAP. Your mileage may vary, but cleaning the panels will definitely restore the normal efficiency of your system if you see it significantly dipping due to the dirt.

For real numbers – the total kwh/day varies with time of year, but peak production @noontime- 1pm or so is a good metric. My system, on a clear day, will peak anywhere from 3 to 3.2 kwh. It had dipped to 2.6 – 2.7 with the dirt. Now it’s back to 3 to 3.2 with the cleaning.

Not bad!

Battery backup is also on the way. I do not enjoy sweating whether or not those scumbuckets at the electric utility will turn off my power during wind events to cover their ass for fire starting lawsuits.

I’ll practically be off the grid! Here’s a recent picture, too!

Friday Art: The Forest Fire Sequence from “Bambi”(1942)

Another damn natural wind event, another rash of giant fires, none of which are sparked by natural phenomena. It’s faulty power equipment left unrepaired by scuzball utilities squeezing every last dime of profit out of people, out-of-sight/out-of-mind cooking fires by what I actually saw in a news item today referred as “urban campers.”

Gee, I wonder what that fabulous euphemism is a substitute for? And God forbid such “urban campers” cooking food or meth (oh, excuse me, not supposed to say that, bad manners) during windstorms among dry brush are actually CLEARED OUT BY LAW ENFORCEMENT BEFORE WINDS GET GOING.

I forget, they’re super-citizens who don’t answer to any law. They live directly off the land, like Daniel Boone, before they start fires that burn up entire neighborhoods overnight.

And just to make sure California maintains economic diversity and breaks down the barriers of class, the other scumbags starting fires from the electric utilities are all fairly wealthy. So everyone is in on the action.

Or there’s always good ol’ cars backfiring, or arson. We’ve got a full menu.

One of these fires is on the other side of the city from me, a good and hopefully will stay safe 10 plus miles away.

But I am sick of this.

I can address the aforementioned scumbag utility company turning off my electricity during windy weather in order to cover their asses from lawsuits resulting from them not maintaining their equipment by adding a battery backup to my house, which is in progress. But I can’t seem to do anything about the stupid mismanagement of land, of non-existent cutting and brush clearing, of making giant graft-spreading “public” utilities maintain their equipment, or of addressing blatantly obvious sources of trouble like groups of unbalanced and often mentally ill drug addicts fending for themselves in dry washes cooking with open fires left to their own devices instead of being treated/dealt with/sheltered/moved along. I’d like to see attempted arsonists shot on sight. But my vote is outnumbered or ballot-harvested away by countless morons who keep voting in the same corrupt incompetents over and over again.

End of rant.

Did my rant start the fire under Bambi’s ass though? Well, not quite – that amazing sequence from the 1942 film is put together beautifully – the fire and falling embers-into-exploding-flame effects are realistic and truly scary. The color palette for those backgrounds and the fireshadows on the Great Prince and Bambi as they flee the burning forest bring home the heat and danger at every turn.

Disney made his animators go to art school and for Bambi, had them re-train to illustrate forest animals realistically. For background design, they brought in artist Tyrus Wong, a production designer for multiple Hollywood films, as well as mural art around Los Angeles, to get the natural backgrounds of the forest correctly. (And being Disney, fired him right after an animator’s strike.)

Bambi credits David Hand as supervising director along with a number of sequence directors – I cannot find a source giving me the specific sequence director for the forest fire, so I’ll offer my own theory. One of the credited sequence directors is Bill Roberts.

Since Disney had an established practice of trying out visual material in their comic shorts before placing them in features, I’d be pretty sure that Bill Roberts, the director of the Mickey & Pluto short “Society Dog Show” from 1939 definitely had a lot to do with this scene, since the climax of “Society Dog Show” has to do with Pluto rescuing another dog from a fire that breaks out on stage. While the flames look more cartoony here (as do the animals), the camera angles and narrow escapes from fire danger match up quite nicely.

I’m happy to be safe in my home and able to watch cartoons with fires burning elsewhere.

All because man came to the forest, so to speak.

Another Unemotional World Series, I Guess

I don’t know if there’s some sort of baseball award for most blown opportunities in a series, but the Yankees really deserve it for this year’s ALCS.

I won’t bother researching the Bill James stats or whatever they are to see if they set a record for men left on base or for the lowest batting average with runners in scoring position… but it sure feels like it. And defensively they were certainly erratic.

And give it up to the Astros – they took advantage of every mistake, made the most of practically every opportunity they had, sparkled in the field, and simply carried themselves like the team to beat. Too many of the Yankees looked confused and tired. A lot of times you can predict the winners of these things just by sensing the mood and attitude.

So I’ll watch what looks like to be a great matchup between the Astros and Nationals. Both teams have a pair of amazing starting pitchers, and I wonder if Nats manager Dave Martinez will do what he did to the Dodgers and stagger his pair of aces so that they don’t face the aces on the Astros. I guess we’ll see.

I’d have to give the edge to the Astros (who I figured to win it all once they signed Greinke, to be honest… but I have to root for my team and hope for the best… that’s what fandom is all about). The Astros have better hitting and balance, and probably a more reliable bullpen.

Yankees off-season will be interesting. I’m thinking they let Encanarcion go. Sabathia is retiring. I’m not sure if they’ll re-sign Gregorius with Andujar due back & the team overflowing with infielders, although I’d love to see him return. But with Urshela becoming what he has, and Voit doing well, and the wonderful addition of LeMehieu (probably the best move they made) along with future HOF Gleyber Torres out there… well, it’s a bit crowded.

What would I like to see in the off-season? Well, signing Garret Cole would sure be nice, although right now the 2020 starting rotation looks to be Severino – Tanaka – German – Paxton – Montgomery, and that’s not too bad. Bettances should return to the bullpen, too. But they can spend a billion dollars on free agents for all I care. I’m not paying for tickets and get to watch free on TV. Spend, spend, spend, I say!

Although all the “ifs” involved in that or any roster set up rely on avoiding the never-ending injuries that plagued nearly the entire team this year, so I think what I really want to see during the offseason is what I’ve wanted to see since maybe late April, that being for them to FIRE THE ENTIRE GOD DAMN STRENGTH AND TRAINING STAFF. Whatever the hell they’re doing, they’re doing in wrong. Guys miss half the year injured, like Judge – or the entire year like Stanton, only to come back and strain themselves AGAIN doing ordinary baseball stuff like running to first or swinging a bat. It’s ridiculous.

Another off-season move they should seriously consider is trading Gary Sanchez for pitching and prospects. They have other catchers who are perfectly fine, and the more I watched him this post-season the more I think he costs more than he provides, even when he hit better this year.

Cutting loose Jacoby Ellsbury and Greg Bird might be imminent as well.

So now to watch the World Series as merely a fan of the sport. Less stressful to be sure, but I don’t think it will affect my alcohol consumption during the games.

I Could Watch This All Day: Cats In Therapy

It sounds like the guy in those “Dear Kitten” commercials. Or maybe that’s what all cats really sound like when they speak proper English.

They probably all are able to speak proper English, too, and simply choose not to. After all, they’re cats.

Football Picks: Weekend of October 19, 2019

Improved a little last week, so hopefully it’ll be a big MO-MENTUM builder into this week, where I’m exclusively picking college games. None of the NFL spreads catch my eye, sorry.

Went 7-4-1 last week for season totals of 35-31-3. Barely above .500. Gotta add to that… so here goes.

Georgia State plus 4 against Army (and don’t you DARE question my patriotism!)

Central Michigan by 10 1/2 over Bowling Green

UCF by 33 over East Carolina

Cincinnati by 17 1/2 over Tulsa

Texas by 21 1/2 over Kansas

Boise State by 7 over BYU

LSU by 17 1/2 over Mississippi State

Ole Miss plus 5 1/2 against Texas A&M

North Carolina by 3 1/2 over Virginia Tech

Appalachian State by 15 over LA Monroe

Penn State by 8 1/2 over Michigan

Best bets out of those, I’d say… are Central Michigan, UCF, Boise State, LSU, Appalachian State and Penn State. Those are the teams I’d probably mix up in a few permutations for parlays.

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